Meal planning doesn’t need to overwhelm you! Just like anything else, meal planning is a habit you can practice and get better at over time. As growth mindset expert, Carol Dweck says, “You don’t know what your abilities are until you make a full commitment to developing them.” Just like going to the gym and creating a workout habit takes a lot of effort at first, meal planning can feel like a slog until you get the hang of it.
Focus on simplicity.
The biggest source of meal planning overwhelm is looking at the blank calendar. Just like a writer can freeze up when staring at a blank page, imagining they have to write an entire novel from start to finish, meal planning feels hefty with dozens of blank squares staring back at you.
Start by meal planning in smaller chunks. Instead of planning for a month or even a full week ahead, just look at the next three days. What dinner recipes can you add to the plan for three days only? Or stretch those recipes by planning only three meals for the upcoming week and increase your servings so you have leftovers in between.
Minimize the amount of mental work it takes to create your plan and it will feel more natural!
Your meal plan doesn’t need to be complex. You don’t have to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day, every single week. That style of planning works for some, but everyone has a different approach to planning – do what works best for you!
Start with the fun part!
Cruising the internet for new recipes is undeniably the most fun part of meal planning.
When you lack planning inspiration, set a timer for 10 minutes and do a recipe search on the internet. Import recipes into your Plan to Eat account to add new flavors and meal options to use in your next meal plan. Plus, the more recipes you have to choose from, the less likely you are to get stuck in a rut of eating the same meals over and over!
Get a planning buddy.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. Recruit a friend to swap dinner ideas and recipes with. The internet is full of yummy-looking recipes, but having a reliable recommendation means you’re more likely to enjoy the recipe. Or ask a group of friends to start a group text thread and use it to share delicious recipes and ask for planning inspiration. (Or join the Plan to Eat Kitchen, our Facebook group dedicated to sharing recipes and making friends!)
Plan around your schedule.
One of the most common ways to meal plan is to look at your schedule and plan around what you already have going on. Start with the busiest nights and choose recipes that take the pressure off cooking like crockpot recipes, frozen meals, or leftovers. Then fill in the rest of the week with family favorites and your simple go-to recipes. And if you want to incorporate new recipes you’ve never made, save those for the weekend or least busy nights, so you have time to get familiar with the recipe.
Meal planning doesn’t need to be complicated and overwhelming. It can be a habit you build and eventually enjoy as part of your weekly routine.
With Plan to Eat, you can streamline your meal planning and feel prepared for the days ahead, and it only takes minutes. Get started with digital meal planning today!